Well, Ive just come in from one of the most 'interesting' rides I have had in a while. Keep in mind I am just an 'average' rider--nothing special here. All of the threads regarding the "French School" as well as other "Contact" related threads have caused me to think an awful lot about Contact among others things such a Purity of Gaits, Throughness, Supple Seats, Lightness of the Front and in the Hand.
Anyhoo---we are still fiddling with the Spanish Walk. SO my ride started with just asking for a few steps of the Spanish Walk in hand. Its been great fun and a great learning experience for me (particularly with respect to greater understanding of the mechanics of the Walk in general). Today I think I finally stumbled upon the correct timing of the "aides" to keep the walk pure and not leaving it behind--so that was a relative break through. His steps today we're by far some of the best (Even though its really fun and sort of exciting to see him take Make the steps---Im learning a little through trial and error that like in many things we do that sometimes a "Little Less" is a little more!). The other thing at least for me is in my boys case its working more as a Connecting Excersize---connecting the Back to the Front and the Steps from behind have become a little larger---maybe due to the steps in front becoming a little higher/larger and the front is more elevated? We are only doing just a few steps at a time (3-4). Anyhow fun stuff. One other note---he seems to be happier offering the steps In Hand sans the surcingle/reins ext.
Todays ride was a bit "odd" in the since that he wanted to be more elevated in front and not as much of what I perceive as more through--even though I aiming for more of an Elastic Contact feel through the reins on even contact. The only way I could get there today it seemed was putting him a bit more forward off my leg and aiming for as long a neck as possible--Poll High. It seemed to work but was sort of frustrating---but hey, if it was easy more people would do it, Right?
My instructor insists he is working at a Higher Level (effort wise) right now and going through a kind of "transition" towards more "correct work". I think in my mind I know this---but I guess the difficulty is in recognizing what is correct (when he is elevated in a higher neck position) than what I am used too---quite honestly, it feels FUNNY!. Yesterday I realized, after fumbling around, stepping back and and taking some time to fill holes with him---it seems he is back to being ready to move up to second. I just hope we are on the right track.
Sorry if this seems OT....I guess Im just wondering where the elevation comes from and why he would suddenly return to working at this level and in this carriage all of a sudden---very off the seat/leg but not so much in the hand---It did feel a little like he was avoiding the contact/but did eventually come through on the aides--his poll was HIGH and the neck was long and he was trucking with long sweeping strides . He was willing to stretch with the shoulders lifted with no changes in tempo.
interesting post GP - i keep thinking of playing with SW in hand but keep thinking "what will that do to my ridden work " ? the last thing i need right now is for pony to want to go more up instead of take the bit/energy forward.....
i did for fun see how he would react to a light touch with the whip on his front leg and its funny how fast they can "get" something as simple as "pick up your front leg" :)
i also got a interesting "AHA" moment when he was doing as i ask and learning ust from me praising him, and then i gave him a treat - and he lost total concentration and the session fell apart and i had to regroup - so i now think that pony will not get treats as rewards - only praise because he is SO food oriented that he cant yet re focus after a treat...... i cant believe it took me 2 years to figure this out with him!
I think I am overanalyzing my ride--in many ways it was good progress! He really is going through a lot of 'changes' as the expectations/level and quality of work are increasing. His lateral work was some of his best today---so perhaps that was a contributing factor to the change in frame/carriage---his willingness to stretch/carry/maintain balance/tempo tells me its not all bad. I dont think it had anything to do with the Spanish walk work. We also had a lot of distractions going on today--so he was a bit up on his toes eyeballing the stampeding Alpaca herd. LOL! He did manage to maintain his composure and focus and I was able to trust him not to flip his lid--even with all that going on.
I am enjoying the In Hand work with my pony and feel in many ways its strengthened an already quality relationship. I had to laugh when he was offering a leg in the x-ties though--- hoping for some cookies. He quit when I ignored his effort :) was hard to ignore, trust me.
I don't like using treats because it usually ends up causing problems of one sort or another. But I do spend a lot of 'quality time' with my pony.
Max the Cob was so agressive with treats when he first arrived that the first sessions involved my asking him to "back" (back up) in the aisle before he got a treat.
I'm sorry, but I couldn't not laugh. He would step forward, and I would say, "No. Back.", and he wouldl look so desparate. He would start drooling and step forward, and I'd say ... No, Back, ..... and then he would back up a step, and I gave him a treat immediately.
But then he would step forward, I'd say No, and he'd step back. Then it was one step forward and one step back ... then he'd rock!! forward and back, forward and back ... and he quit picking up his feet to do this!!
I let a friend of mine have a go on my horse yesterday and at one point, she was trying to get the horse to do a reinback. But as far as the horse was concerned, she gave the "wrong" aid and the horse was doing her counted walk and starting to hold the front legs up, almost into Spanish walk. I was thinking, "I did an all right job training that," and then advised the rider on the aids that would get the horse to back up. Poor rider. :) She hadn't ridden anything with lots of buttons in a while.
BP - yes, that is how obsessed my pony is with food :) he drools too! and unfortunately i cant NOT treat as my trainer is bad! about them! he is a sugar dispenser and the horses love him....
but i am going to as of today not treat anymore..... except maybe when i am done. because he does literally lose his mind for a minute and thinks only "foooooood"
Jack is a pony that will be able to do whatever you want - - it is up to US, as riders, to get out of their way, learn to ride/train correctly so they can progress.
it sounds like you have a good trainer and that is half the battle....
oh and eta: i have also learned that there is a really big difference between riding and truly training correctly that will result in progression up the levels..... for most of us as we learn we will get stuck at the point where "dressage" starts - aka 2nd level where transfer of weight occurs and where it is more than just forward :)
if you have a trainer that knows what they are doing - have faith that they will lead you where you need to go - even if it feels weird/wonky/etc.
i guess i am trying to say that 2nd level is a dividing line.... anyone can do T/1st level work - only correctly trained horses can do 2nd level + well.
:) and it takes a lot of hard work to get there!
I just noticed this Spanish Walk on the DV thread: http://youtu.be/NToGnj8QrwU
Whats interesting (to me at least) is that hind leg action towards the end of the set----this is the connecting hind leg Ive seen with my pony. It also seems remarkably similar to the hind leg action seen in the Marduk video. I am very interested in the biomechanical aspect of this loose sort of hind leg action as it seems very different than the one we see in say a Warmblood type walk. Is it the front coming up that causes that stepping action?
I have used treats for years. It is a good way to work on boundaries in addition to focus a horse who is really unsure if they want to dance with you. The SRS uses sugar cubes out of a special pocket sewn into the back of their jackets. Now, I haven't used sugar cubes for years except when they are sent as part of a Christmas present. THey love the flavored ones! Carrot seems to be their super fave.
New horse. No real halt from a clear cue, no ability to turn with aids or go to trot. After 6 days we have a halt, one good arc of a circle, bend for about twenty strides of walk at a time and the beginnings of a trot transition. He is a happy willing sort so I am not complaining. Came with NO FLEXION at all in his hind legs in any joint. Now we have a wee bit of flexion in the fetlock and hock. He is not used to contact and has done all sorts of weird things with his mouth. The "Flexions" are primitive and meet with great resistance.
I am sick now so he is getting a few days off. My body both screams and appreciates the work. Trying to provide balance to both of us and request that the horse pick up the tab is hard work. Been a long time since I worked with a horse like this but it is fun.
horsefaire - i have no problem with treats - believe me... i have used them forever - unfortunately i have a pony right now that is literally food obsessed... and treats tend to get him to lose focus - which is counter productive right now. so i am going to down play treats as rewards because the last thing i need is pony looking for treats during a test ;)
This thread has been such an eye opener for me! I need help! I have an Arabian that I consistently get comments on my dressage tests as "hollow" through the back...or "needs to develop top line muscles". All of this means I am not engaging the hind end. He has a soft mouth and prefers a soft contact so the driving him into the contact isn't working for us....help!!!!
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Checking back in.
Rode for Jane Savoie's instructor course a few weeks ago (during hurricane Sandy, which was not the most brilliant thing I've ever done....) I hurt my back a few days before, and after loading and unloading my trailer, sitting around in plastic chairs auditing, riding when my back was killing me, and enjoying the wonderful ambiance of the hurricane, I was kind of toasted by the end of the clinic. After hauling buckets during a post hurricane power outage I was totally out of commission.
Just getting back in the tack again. It does allow me to just do a little bit without feeling guilty for not doing more (as the back is still not 100%).
There are enough books and videos on this and the other French thread to keep us all busy for a few years!!
Am currently working on incorporating 'first position' from the Savoie course. Seems very french to me.
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First position is one of the most basic principles of training (campaign school not even haute ecole). It is the basis of being able to straighten the horse and of lateral flexibility before longitudinal flexion. (esp. well defined in Seunig/Podhajsky).
Stirrup Stepping is Described Briefly in this Article on Loading the Hind Legs:
Stirrup-stepping is a secret aid of the Old School used to collect the horse. In combination with the rein aid, or as a replacement for it, the rider can put greater weight on the hind leg he wishes to load more. The best time to do this is when the hind leg is in the air and is swinging forward. By stepping heavily into the stirrup on the same side, the rider can use his weight to make the horse "sit," that is, bend the targeted hind leg more. When the hind leg is weighted while it is in the air, the horse cannot evade to the side with it. Because the hind leg is compressed more when meeting the ground, the spring of the hock will push back against the ground with more force, thereby increasing the spring in the gait. The horse must be allowed to go forward. The moment of suspension is increased and the gaits become "bigger." One can think of a ball being bounced on the ground. The more force is used on the ball, the higher it will bounce.The exercise is a combination of stepping on the outside stirrup, then the inside stirrup, then both equally. It can be done in either trot or canter. It is pobably easier to begin in trot. In rising trot, upon sitting, step more heavily on the outside stirrup for two strides. Then step into the inside stirrup for two strides, then both for two strides. Allow the horse to trot more forward for two strides and begin the sequence again. Do the exercise while posting on both diagonals equally, as you do not want to work one hind leg more than the other. The result should be a bigger, more energetic, yet more collected gait. Eventually, the rider should be able to feel when the hind leg is coming forward at the sitting trot or canter and should step more heavily in the stirrup on the same side as the hind leg to collect the horse.